I went to the Crime Writers of Canada Christmas/Holiday Party last night, a buzzing affair of food, drink, raffles and most importantly, chatting with dozens of published mystery and true crime writers.
I enjoyed the evening despite the headaches I endured organizing the party. I somehow got drafted this year to be the CWC’s regional vice-president for Toronto, a position they asked me to fill since I’m a relative newbie.
The CWC swept me into their association five years ago because I wrote a murder mystery short story by accident. When I went to the first meeting of this group of crime writers, I was surprised that I was pretty much the youngest person at the meeting. I wasn’t surprised that there were no twenty-somethings, but I figured that thirty-somethings should be there.
It’s five years later, and I was struck last night by the fact that I’m still one of the youngest members in the room. I know that there are one or two members who are younger, but for the most part it’s the same people as five years ago, and the new members who are joining are the opposite of young: they’re retirees looking to write and publish that book they never got around to during their working life.
This concerns me. While membership in the CWC may be on the rise as the baby boomers retire and seek a creative outlet, it doesn’t bode well for the health of the organization. Some members have already succumbed early to the inevitable. Demographics could take a nasty toll on this merry band of writers.
If I’m lucky enough to live my full lifespan, it could be that twenty years from now I will preside over the last meeting of the Crime Writers of Canada. The four of us will toast the boomers who started the organization and then shuffled off this mortal coil, even as we prepare for our own end.
Of course it doesn’t have to end that way. But the demographics of the country are changing, not just in numbers, but ethnicity. Perhaps we need some young Muslims who write murder mysteries? Is that likely?
Truth is that I wonder about the publishing industry as a whole in this demographic regard because I sense a sea change coming, and I frankly I want to know how to use this to further my goal of selling lots of novels.
And I better start thinking about where to find young CWC members, or that last meeting in 2030 will be more like a wake than a Christmas party.